This week the Cardinal Hume Centre held a breakfast briefing on one of the hottest issues of the moment, bringing guests from the worlds of business, politics and non-profits to cut through some of the rhetoric and myth around immigration and understand the reasons why people migrate.
The Corinthia Hotel, who generously hosted the event, welcomed representatives from Land Security, the Home Office, the London Assembly, and Centre trustee Bishop John Arnold with Bishop Pat Lynch who has a special responsibility for migrant affairs for the Bishops’ Conference.
Keynote speaker, Maurice Wren, CEO of the Refugee Council spoke of the global realities of migration and of the need to look beyond the press headlines and the words of some politicians, suggesting that immigration has to be seen as a consequence of economic inequality and poverty across the world and not as a ‘problem’ in its own right. This was a theme taken up by others with Richard Miller of Action Aid UK describing the push factors that drive people to leave their country of origin and the work international NGOs do to address poverty and inequality.
The Cardinal Hume Centre offers free immigration advice. Sophia Barrett, manager of the immigration team, outlined some of the barriers faced by people – especially families – in getting their legal status acknowledged. It is estimated that there are some 120,000 children caught in a vacuum of uncertainty about their right to be in this country – many of them do have that right but there is less and less support available to help them prove it, given the swinging cuts made to the provision of legal aid.
Sarah Teather MP (pictured), a patron of the Centre, highlighted the success of our immigration team in the last year, helping 68 people to regularise their status, thus enabling them to contribute to the economy as well as society more generally. She said: “I urge everyone present to remember the role of compassion when discussing immigration and of the need for all people of good will to challenge and counter the prevailing hostile attitude to migrants.”
Wrapping up the event, Cathy Corcoran, chief executive of the Cardinal Hume Centre said: “By opening our doors to migrants and refugees we are, I believe, doing exactly what our founder would want us to do. I am really proud of this side of our work and very grateful to the Corinthia for their continuing generosity in providing us with the opportunity to debate this often controversial topic.”